Dorota Walentynowicz

Residence, Gdansk-Strasbourg

Dorota WALENTYNOWICZ “Half an instant”, 2011

The crossed-residences program established by the City of Strasbourg, give every year the opportunity for several artists to enrich their personal and professional development through an experience in a foreign country. In this context, in 2012, the City of Strasbourg will welcome the Polish artist, Dorota Walentynowicz and Patrick Bogner, photograph of Strasbourg, will develop an artistic project over several trips to Gdansk. The residences are supervised by the Apollonia association and “Laznia” Center for Contemporary Art in Gdansk.

Supported by City of Gdansk Culture Scholarship



Dorota Walentynowicz

In my artistic work I have consistently been taking on topics, which in a direct or indirect way relate to the question of the role that the photographic image plays in the process of industrialization of contemporary culture. The creative industry is one of those domains in which this process is rather easy to observe – to begin with the change in nomenclature from the word “art” to “creative industry” that we are now witnessing. As a reflection on this process I recently started producing series of photographs that have been made in various exhibition spaces, both those in which I presented my own work as well as those visited as a spectator. The topic of a museum is interesting to me not only as an example for observing a certain social process, but also because of its importance for the coining of term “heterotopia” as presented in the essay by Michel Foucault “Of Other Spaces” which has recently drawn my interest as potential source of artistic and philosophical investigation. It is to these issues that I would like to devote my research during the stay in Strasbourg.
In Strasbourg I intend to realize a photographic project based on documentation of the interiors of local galleries and museums. In this work I will use self made cameras, whose idiosyncratic image-making features I intend to exploit in producing a site specific photographic installation. I have been working with self made pinhole cameras since 2009, often using them to document my own kinetic installations, at the same time expanding the idea of a photographic documentation by stressing the importance of the photographic medium over the photographed object itself. The cameras, which I have been using, are designed as sculptures – made out of thin wood and painted black they form figures that in their shape refer to platonic elements, architectural models or modernist objects. Their form is their camouflage. Placed inside a gallery, filled with light sensitive material, they record their surrounding with their photographic eye and over long time of exposure preserve it directly on the negative which later will be used to produce photographic prints. Therefore the process of photographing itself gains a performative aspect, it becomes an action with a distinct temporal dimension which is being enacted in the space of art. Using the photographic process as a performance on one hand side together with the act of documentation of artworks as art itself situates my work in the scope of reference of the Luise Lawler’s conceptual oeuvre. However the idea of shaping the camera to resemble an artwork and displaying it during the process, makes my practice quite specific.
Using the pinhole sculptures I analyse photography as fragmented reality, that can be reassembled by implementing certain taxonomic procedures. Because of the imperfection of this technique – lack of viewfinder, which disables precise framing – pictures of the registered space manifest their fragmentality with much more strength then any usual, orderly composed image. The cut out is more obvious, space appears broken or split, the frame seems to gravitate towards the whole, the feeling of understatement is more piercing. These very features of photography I intend to explore in my project and use them to produce large scale pictures of fragmented museum spaces that will be produced in a 1 to 1 dimension and installed on the walls of my studio as if to resemble contemporary frescoes. The photographic prints will be combined with another technique, that of antrakotypia, which allows the reproduction of photographic images directly on a plasterboard by using carbon mixed with gelatin. Images formed using this technique appear as naturally imperfect, reminding of those practices in wall decoration that simulate aging of the surface, giving it the appearance of passing time.
Using a combination of both of these techniques I intend to produce a reflection on the topic of exhibition space as a perfect example of heterotopia, as a slit in the casual space-time order, as a placeless and timeless place, which resembles a mirror in which everything can be reflected without affecting its own physically, which in itself is a locus without a genius but in which other loci are sampled and assembled. In his essay “Of other spaces” Michel Foucault describes it in such way: .. Museums have become heterotopias in which time never stops building up and topping its own summit… (with) the idea of accumulating everything, of establishing a sort of general archive, the will to enclose in one place all times, all epochs, all forms, all tastes, the idea of constituting a place of all times that is itself outside of time and inaccessible to its ravages, the project of organizing in this way a sort of perpetual and indefinite accumulation of time in an immobile place (…). This idea, as says Foucault, is one very much of the modernity.